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Old 04-03-2010, 04:30 PM   #1
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Angry Typos in ebooks

Hi,

I don't know if this has already been discussed, but aren't others also frustrated at the numerous typos in retail e-books? I have seen numerous mistakes in books from both Sony and Amazon. This doesn't happen with paper books and so I feel somewhat ripped off when it happens with ebooks.

How do others feel? Any tips on getting the publishers or sellers to take notice? Maybe it's time to mount a mass complaint?
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:05 PM   #2
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I always have a bit of paper next to the bed to write down any mistakes I find, then fix them in Sigil later for the next time I read them. I did ask one of the publishers once if they wanted the fixed copy, but they didn't reply.
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Old 04-03-2010, 06:40 PM   #3
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I've done something similar before. However, it shouldn't be the customer's job to proof the book. Furthermore, I don't re-read everything I buy so it still ruins the reading experience.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:08 PM   #4
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Just for my own edification ... are we talking about "real" books here -- Harper Collins, Penguin, Random House et al -- as opposed to "Google Books" and public domain material?

Occasionally some gaffe turns up even in commercial paper product but these are rare. Is that frequency we are talking about? Or are commercial e-books simply shoddier than their direct hard cover and paper back counterparts?
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SensualPoet View Post
Just for my own edification ... are we talking about "real" books here -- Harper Collins, Penguin, Random House et al -- as opposed to "Google Books" and public domain material?

Occasionally some gaffe turns up even in commercial paper product but these are rare. Is that frequency we are talking about? Or are commercial e-books simply shoddier than their direct hard cover and paper back counterparts?
From my experience with both free and commercial ebooks, they're simply shoddier. I not too long ago went through a file that was around 600 pages on my reader, and every time I came across a typo, I bookmarked it so I could fix it up when stripping it and converting to PDF. By the time I got to the end of the book, I checked the bookmark count: 126.

The overall rate is lower, but still makes paperbacks look great by comparison.
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:40 PM   #6
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Some commercial eBooks seem to have OCR mistakes, but this is rare with new titles. The most common mistake I see is a word broken where a hyphen should be, or a hyphen inserted where one shouldn't be. I see this even in new books. I think this happens when a human goes back and manually corrects the H&J on the layout for the physical book, and the script they use to convert to OEBPS doesn't handle it correctly.

I imagine there's at least a couple of employees at every big publishing house who go back through and touch up a book "incorrectly," thinking they are making the final product have better quality.

I'm also betting that very little proof-reading is done on most eBooks, with the thinking that the proof reading for the physical books was enough.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:12 AM   #7
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I too have been angry and frustrated by the shoddy formatting found in many commercial ebooks. I had a frank exchange of views a week or so ago with HarperCollins Australia about 'Flashman' by George MacDonald Fraser. I won't go into the details now, but I told them that I would be ashamed to put out something as poorly produced over my signature, and that I certainly would not have bought the book if I had known how badly produced it was. I did get a response, but only that the book was produced by HarperCollins UK, and they would send the email to them.

I have a suggestion, but it depends on whether commercial publishers read MobileRead Forums, and whether they give a damn anyway.

Suppose each time any of us finds a particularly badly produced book we notify each other through this forum to warn others not to buy that book - something like a 'Hall of Shame' - and copy the details to the publisher, and mention that the comment has been posted here.

We might even need a special subforum for the Hall of Shame. How do people feel about the idea? Would the moderators permit this?

Regards, Alex
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:29 AM   #8
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I read Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn recently and I found a lot of errors that should have been avoided. It's like the books was converted from a PDF copy.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:45 AM   #9
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I believe the comments here about shoddy commercial e-book production; I just don't understand it -- that is, I'm shocked and surprised.

Wouldn't all "recent" titles exist as some sort of text-based electronic file? Surely anything that's been in the catalogue consistently since the latter 1980s exists digitally -- and not as pdf images that have to be OCR'd to create an e-book.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:49 AM   #10
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I've just posted the following on the 'smell of books' thread and I think it would be just as appropriate for it to be here as well:

I'm an ignoramus about e-book readers as I don't own one. But I do have three e-books 'out there' and I'm curious to know how they appear on (or in) an e-reader. When I look at the pdf versions on my computer screen there's absolutely nothing about them that is different to their paper counterparts. Am I being naive, but aren't all books published in both forms identical? Could this only be true for books that are published with the intention of their appearing in both forms? Also, is it possible for unwanted errors to creep in during conversion from one format to another? If this is so, surely the publisher should subject the final pdf version to a proof-read before he sells it.

As an editor I'm probably more aware than most people of typos in professionally produced manuscripts. If there's only one, or perhaps two, in a book, I consider that to be not sufficient to put me off a book. If there are more than two, I find I continue to read with half my mind fixed on when I'm going to find the next. So, for me, errors can be distracting.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:49 AM   #11
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Wouldn't all "recent" titles exist as some sort of text-based electronic file? Surely anything that's been in the catalogue consistently since the latter 1980s exists digitally -- and not as pdf images that have to be OCR'd to create an e-book.
You might have thought so, but you'd be surprised. Publishers are an ultra-conservative lot. Although manuscripts have been submitted electronically for some years, many publishers did not retain electronic versions of the books after typesetting them, and hence have to OCR even fairly recent books in order to create an eBook. Hence lots of OCR errors.

Newly-published books should really not have this problem.
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:00 AM   #12
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I read Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn recently and I found a lot of errors that should have been avoided. It's like the books was converted from a PDF copy.
Well... the books are probably converted from the laid-out-in-InDesign version, rather than the manuscript version (otherwise they'd be missing any revisions made from the page proofs, etc.).

If they're not doing the layout in InDesign "right", so that its ePub export knows how to handle the line-break/hyphenation issues that crop up in a PDF, I'd expect to see similar errors. (And the resulting PDF ebook probably fails at reflowing properly on mobile devices, too.)
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SensualPoet View Post
Just for my own edification ... are we talking about "real" books here -- Harper Collins, Penguin, Random House et al -- as opposed to "Google Books" and public domain material?

Occasionally some gaffe turns up even in commercial paper product but these are rare. Is that frequency we are talking about? Or are commercial e-books simply shoddier than their direct hard cover and paper back counterparts?
The last paid for ebook I read had mistakes on average every 4 or 5 pages. Ironically enough, the fan-made ebooks I read hardly ever seem to have any mistakes at all (though I never go for the initial "release").

A few examples from the last book I read that I haven't got around to fixing yet (there was lots and lots like this that I have already fixed and thrown the bits of paper away):

one of science team = one of the science team
I kind have to go fight - I kinda (or kind of) ...
but there dozens of people sleeping = but there was ...
You’re sure they’re there but you can hear anything = can't hear
could she haven fallen back in love = could she have
A lot them are true believers = a lot of them are ...
or maybe ever the top dog in Homeland = maybe even ...
not wasting to make a scene = not wanting to ...
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:02 AM   #14
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Well... the books are probably converted from the laid-out-in-InDesign version, rather than the manuscript version (otherwise they'd be missing any revisions made from the page proofs, etc.).

If they're not doing the layout in InDesign "right", so that its ePub export knows how to handle the line-break/hyphenation issues that crop up in a PDF, I'd expect to see similar errors. (And the resulting PDF ebook probably fails at reflowing properly on mobile devices, too.)
Vince Flynn's books do seem to have a particularly horrible problem. I bought one not so long ago for my Kindle, and it was missing all the quotation marks, dashes, and full stops. I kept it, because it was a good story, but the almost complete lack of punctuation made it a "challenge" to read, especially the dialogue parts of it.
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:09 AM   #15
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I am reading 'Ceremony in Death' by J.D. Robb right now and there are random spaces in the middle of words. I a halfway through and this has happened a dozen or so times. I read other books in the series and they did not have this issue. It is a mobipocket file so I am not sure how I could edit it. I purchased the book from Fictionwise. This is one reason the at-paper prices are imho unfair. You are not getting a product of the same quality.
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